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Jonolism or Journalism?

Written By: - Date published: 7:44 pm, July 29th, 2013 - 48 comments
Categories: broadcasting, david shearer, democracy under attack, housing, john banks, john key, overseas investment, russel norman, slippery, tv - Tags: , ,

Patrick Gower’s report on TV3 6pm News tonight, shows what is wrong with commerical TV news (in contrast to public service TV).  He gets tonight’s award for Jonolism.  Here’s hoping the Campbell Live tonight will show Gower how it should be done.

However, in contrast to Campbell Live’s more background current affairs format, Gower presents the mainstream news that is watched by many Kiwis as the way to keep informed of the news.  Corporate infotainment News is ratings focused, and, tends to follow “neoliberal” values.  As such, it lacks depth of analysis, highlights conflict and drama, and promotes argument by visual images over sound evidence and logic.

Gower’s effort tonight was faux news.  He gives it a racist framing in order to accuse Shearer of racism in an argument that revolves around it’s own framing and logic, and fails to truly represent the issue in anything like a balanced way.

The video starts with Gower referring back to an earlier 3 News report, where, he claims, a lot of the people at an Auckland house auction were Asian.  He has no evidence whether they are New Zealanders, or foreign buyers aiming to be, or represent, absentee foreign ownership.  He provides no evidence of the proportion of foreign home buyers that are Asian, compared with buyers from other countries.

Shearer has a good line about it being about all foreign owners, but fails to really emphasise the important point – weak.  John Key does his usual, matter-of-fact, low key sell, aiming to show he is being down to earth and realistic.  He shrugs and says that, as far as the Labour policy being “anti-Asian”,

It feels like that to me. If you are of Asian ethnicity, you might be a third generation New Zealander, you’ll almost be expected under Labour to bring your passport to the auction. Well I think that’s a bit offensive.

So Key makes up a hypothetical scenario, and then says it’s what Labour will be encouraging, then calls his own imaginings offensive.  This goes un-remarked by Gower.  And Gower fails to put to Key that Shearer has said it will prevent ALL foreign non-residents from buying NZ houses.

Then Gower goes onto to show an NZ website targeting foreign buyers, that, he says without Australia included, make up 7.7% of the market.  He says it’s the sort of website that a Labour government would close down.

This is the website, NZ Connections. And it’s main page promo says:

Why New Zealand property?

  • No Capital Gains tax

  • No transfer Duty

  • 80% property finance available

  • Few barriers to purchasing

  • Excellent rental returns

  • Growth driven by solid demand

So it seems to be encouraging people to buy property to get returns from renting.  No mention of targeting Asian buyers anywhere obvious on the main page.  But it does have a page comparing property ownership in South Africa compared with NZ, in a section entitled “Investing in NZ”.

In the section entitled, “Property Options”, it says:

We’ve found that the majority of our South African purchasers are working with two main criteria in their search for a property in New Zealand:

1) A future-proof investment – with the prospect of no immediate solutions to the economic and political difficulties at home, many South Africans are looking off-shore for a safe haven for their Rand and a ‘Plan B’ home. New Zealand offers just that.

2) Solid return on investment – New Zealand property is unusual in that it can offer cash-flat or cash-positive ROI. The rental and tourism markets are thriving, ensuring a steady pool of tenants and holidaymakers for properties.

No mention of any other nationality.

Back to the Gower, video.  Key calls Labour’s policy “desperation”, Shearer says it’s about putting New Zealanders first and, for some unknown reason, John Banks’ talking head pops up saying “I believe it’s racist“. Is Banks an authority on racism in NZ?

Gower uses his own shonkey polls to indicate most Kiwis will favour Labour’s policy. Then Russel Norman confidently and convincingly nails it:

John Key is purposely turning this into a divisive race argument, for purely political reasons.

The video ends with the anchor, Hillary Barry, going live to Gower in Parliament.  The location is meant to provide visual strength to the notion that, somehow Gower is an authority on the issue.  This is an old infotainment trick.  The “expert” that an anchor traditionally interviews, in a quality broadcast, would be an actual expert on a topic, not a journalist posing as an authority.

And Gower as authority in Parliament, bookends the video the way it began, framing Labour’s policy in John Key’s terms as “desperation” and racist – albeit with a weak attempt at balance saying the housing issue is a weak area for Key. Gower labels the tactic as “dog whistle” politics. But this is just a circular argument, because it is Key and Gower that are whistling loudly for the dog of public opinion.

You are NOT the story

You are NOT the story

Now to catch up with Campbell Live, which has apparently included something on the GCSB, while I’ve been typing.  Let’s see whether it rates as Jonolism or true Journalism.

[Update:] Campbell interviews Ferguson

The Law Society, the Human Rights Commission and the Privacy Commissioner all oppose it, and they’re not alone – so does air marshal Sir Bruce Ferguson, the former chief of New Zealand Defence Force and director of the GCSB, a man knighted for his services to the military.

Surely, when he expresses concerns about new spying powers for the GCSB, and most particularly about the way they’re overseen, we should listen.

Campbell sticks to being a journalist interviewing someone who is an authority in their field.  He cites the arguments and reports by leading organisations in relevant fields, and doesn’t rely on cheap tricks to create an argument by false association with selected images and unsupported imaginings.

48 comments on “Jonolism or Journalism?”

  1. Paul 1

    Think a daily jonolism award should be given on the Standard.
    Cannot believe how bad the media is here…..

    • Anne 1.1


      Turned it off karol. Have sworn never to watch that creep Gower again. No good for my blood pressure.

      Campbell Live not up on site yet.

      • karol 1.1.1

        interview with Sir Bruce Ferguson on the oversight needed for the GCSB.

        Now, Ferguson is an authority in his field and worthy of being interviewed on the issue.

        Campbell is quoting the law society as an relevant source.

    • Mary 1.2

      Yes, except it shouldn’t necessarily be daily, just when it truly is a “Jonolism” moment, to help keep it real.

  2. Arfamo 2

    It was a disgusting blatantly anti-Labour dishonest presentation that would make even Fox News owners blush. Agree that Norman nailed Key for what he is. But for pure slanted anti-Labour propaganda, this was really bad.

    • karol 2.1

      The truly shocking part is that, in support of his claim that Labour’s policy is anti-Asian, Gower uses a visual of a website targeting South African property investors.

  3. Te Reo Putake 3

    I enjoyed the apology from TV3 to the people of Palmy for the baseless allegation of rioting on Saturday. A small island of truth bobbing in a sea of bullshit.

  4. Jackal 4

    Great analysis Karol. You’ve conveyed perfectly much of what I was thinking and highlighted a pathetic attempt by 3 News at credible journalism. Propagandist seems a far more appropriate title for the likes of Patrick Gower.

  5. Paul 5

    In the past week, the corporate media have done the following:
    1. Fairfax bans reporters from talking about inequality.
    2. TV3 news frames story about GSCB protests to suggest violence and disorder in the streets. Wellington – gates being climbed. Palmerston North – rocks being thrown.
    3. TV3 news frames story about Labour’s housing policy to make it all abut racism.
    4. Rachel Smalley spouts the “nothing to fear nothing to hide,” nonsense just as it is revealed real journalists need to fear as the Defence Force is accused of spying on them.

    These are the Candidates for the inaugaral ‘jonolist’ of the week.
    Any other suggestions?

    What a pathetic excuse for the 4th estate…..

    • Paul 5.1

      Can moderator please delete my duplicates….accidentally pressed button twice as though it had not gone through.

      [karol: Done]

    • Curtis 5.2

      Don’t forget them quoting a comment off this site with no other credible source to back it up and calling that comment a post

  6. Bill 6

    Shearer has said it will prevent ALL foreign residents from buying NZ houses

    In the interests of clarity, wouldn’t that be better phrased as “all foreign non residents” or just “non residents”? I mean, I know what is meant, but it’s kinda attracts amiguity – as in foreign residents could be read to mean immigrants with residency.

    • karol 6.1

      Good point. Will do.
      Thanks, Bill.

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      I’m amazed that Labour isn’t simply running this same line over and over again.

      “Anyone who lives in NZ, regardless of race or country of origin, is welcome to buy a house and settle down in this great country. That’s what this policy is about.”

      • Arfamo 6.2.1

        +1. Except the line should be “who is permanently resident in…”.

        • karol

          Of course, John key is probably worried if NZ took that line, he’d be kicked out of his Hawaii holiday home in retaliation.

          • Arfamo

            Couldn’t happen to a more deserving bloke.

          • McFlock


          • Murray Olsen

            Pity Shearer isn’t as quick as you, karol. That’s the sort of line Key deserves to have thrown at him.

            Gower, the boy trying to do a boy’s job, should be ignored by any politician on the left.

            • Arfamo

              Pity Shearer isn’t as quick as you, karol. That’s the sort of line Key deserves to have thrown at him.

              Only in The House. I reckon Shearer may be best not to resort to retaliatory personal attacks in the media. Take the moral high ground on that – it’s been vacated by the other side. Just keep the messages simple but be on top of the facts and the detail for questions.

      • McFlock 6.2.2

        nice line. I wouldn’t even do the race clause – leave it as emphasis if gower acts stupid.

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 7

    Well all the trained monkeys are falling into line:
    running with nationals angle on Labours policy

    Hosking , Gower…. whos next

    No point even asking what Leighton Smith and Larry Williams view will be , as they are reliable lap dogs for national and its corporate interests

  8. McFlock 8

    fair amount of time to bed it in and get the real word out, though.

  9. Craig Glen viper 9

    Gower’s a totally bloody idiot, he constantly makes shit up about Labour and any positive spin he can give Key he dutifully delivers.I can’t believe how many Jono’s exist in our media.

    • Arfamo 9.1

      I’ve never bothered to watch him after forming a dim view of a couple of his earlier appearances, but this time the remote mute button was out of reach and the whole news item was just so unbelievably biased I had to look. Jesus. This is our MSM. It’s diseased.

  10. Paul 10

    Maybe more letters like the folk from Palmerston North wrote to challenge the narrative.
    They forced an apology out of the corrupt media.

    • weka 10.1

      I’ve been wondering if a sustained campaign of complaints about the MSM might be useful. Linked back to blogs, twitter etc.

  11. Saarbo 11

    Gower’s bias is obvious, he is a disgrace to TV3 and journalism. Clearly he has many friends in National providing him their their information…it isn’t NEWS though. TV3 need to act soon, because he is fast turning TV3 into a National Party political broadcast.

    How can he call a policy that will effectively increase the supply of housing into Auckland by between 5% and 10% dog whistle politics, this policy is a no brainer…keep pushing it Labour.

    Add a comprehensive capital gains tax and a really stringent rental warrant of fitness, investigate the non tax deductibility of interest on investment housing…then we will be getting somewhere.

    House prices in Auckland are well out of control…things need to be done to bring them back into control because this is one of the main things causing huge poverty and inequality in our nation.

    • Mike S 11.1

      It won’t increase the supply of housing into auckland. It should however reduce the demand, having a similar effect.

      • Saarbo 11.1.1

        same diff though Mike. Has the same affect on the demand/supply curves…although it has been nearly 30 years since I did 101 Micro/Macro economics.

  12. Mary 12

    Shouldn’t be a question of whether it’s journalism at all. Heading should just say “Jonolism”.

    • karol 12.1

      Well. when I started the post, I was thinking to compare Gower’s little effort with Campbell Live.

      • Mary 12.1.1

        Yes – just didn’t want to let Gower think we even considered journalism was a possibility, that’s all. :)

        • karol

          Heh. Well, just in case he does, I’ve added a bit on Campbell’s interview with Bruce Ferguson as an example of journalism.

  13. Richard Christie 13

    These days I almost expect Gower to end his idiotic slots with,”nahah, What’s up folks?”

    The resemblance to Bugs Bunny grows by the month.
    Not a good look when added to the spastic thunderbird-puppet arm-movements the TV3 jonos all seem trained to employ.

  14. Curtis 14

    I also just read this comment off the Stuff website heres the link

    TV3 is owned by Mediaworks which was once Steven Joyce’s “the Minister for Everything” company. Joyce provided Mediaworks with a cushy – and controversial – $43million loan (at the same time they denied $17million to keep TVNZ7 going).

    So yes, Mediaworks is on the National party’s IOU list, they thank them in kind for their preferential treatment … with soft focus, soft interviews, and even a weekly radio slot for John Key on RadioLIVE (also Mediaworks-owned)

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 14.1

      Rather than simply issue a retraction, Tv3 (since you appear to be reading The Standard), why not do a story on the source of the lie?

      Rocks and bottles thrown at the cops, angry Captain Mumblefuck*? You’re doing it wrong!

      Murdoch’s behaviour in the UK leads to the suspicion that you might not just be getting this wrong, either. If it’s deliberate, and especially if analysis of your mistakes reveals partisan bias, I expect the technical staff and John Campbell will get jobs with other media organisations.

      The rest of you? You’ll be the story.

      *soon to be Prime Minister Mumblefuck.

  15. Daveo 15

    Shearer doesn’t have a good line. His framing is awful and his language is sloppy.

    From the 3 News story:

    It’s a red button issue, but party leader David Shearer claims it’s not anti-Asian or Chinese.

    “I completely reject that,” he says. “This is against all foreigners.”

    The word foreigner shouldn’t even enter into it. Honestly, this guy, it’s getting to the point where I don’t want him to release and new progressive policies because he’ll just ruin them.

    • karol 15.1

      Actually, Daveo, it may not be Shearer’s full sentence on display there. If you look at the vid, there is a quick edit after Shearer says “foreigners” – it sounds and looks like he is cut off in mid sentence.

      However, I agree he needs to be more careful in his framing/language. Ditch the word “foreigners”. Focus more on “overseas speculators”, who don’t reside in NZ.

  16. Sable 16

    If Paul Holmes has a successor its John Campbell. He’s the only mainstream journalist I watch. The rest are such right wing trash, its wasted time and effort.

  17. Sable 17

    I’m surprised I can find anything positive say at all about the mainstream media these days Weka. I do know I miss Paul Holmes.

    • weka 17.1

      Can’t think of a reply to that that wouldn’t be rude Sable 😉 (was never a Paul Holmes fan myself, to put it mildly). I do like Campbell and think he does a good job enough of the time given the contraints of the system that he works within.

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